Author(s): Paul Kenyon
The dictator who grew so rich on his country's cocoa crop that he built a 35-storey-high basilica in the jungles of the Ivory Coast. The austere, incorruptible leader who has shut Eritrea off from the world in a permanent state of war and conscripted every adult into the armed forces. In Equatorial Guinea, the paranoid despot who thought Hitler was the saviour of Africa and waged a relentless campaign of terror against his own people. The Libyan army officer who authored a new work of political philosophy, The Green Book, and lived in a tent with a harem of female soldiers, running his country like a mafia family business. And behind these almost incredible stories of fantastic violence and excess lie the dark secrets of Western greed and complicity, the insatiable taste for chocolate, oil, diamonds and gold that have encouraged dictators to rule with an iron hand, siphoning off their share of the action into mansions in Paris and banks in Zurich and keeping their people in dire poverty.
'Kenyon's stories of corruption and excess are truly compelling, while his analysis of the West's motivations is astute and illuminating' Culture Trip. 'It is [the] minute observations that make Mr Kenyon's book so hard to put down' Economist. 'Well written and sensibly structured ... Some of the most revealing passages are based on interviews with retired expatriate executives and diplomats who were witness to the excesses of the early post-colonial years' The Sunday Times. 'Highly readable ... A chapter on the rise of Felix Houphouet-Boigny is especially vivid' The Times. 'The breathtaking account of how a handful of men were handed a continent of rich lands and poor people. How they became tyrants overnight and turned their countries into cruel kleptocracies. How they ransacked their treasuries to make billion-pound fortunes, and lived in unimaginable luxury while their people often starved. Paul Kenyon is a brilliant writer who's been there and tells a story of unparalleled greed and western complicity in vivid detail. It's Africa's ruin, but our story too' Michael Buerk.
Paul Kenyon has travelled in almost every African country in the footsteps of the dictators. He is a distinguished BBC correspondent and BAFTA award-winning journalist and author.